Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Did curiosity really kill the cat?

Written by: on February 9, 2024

With regard to this week reading, “How to make the World Add up,” by Tim Harford, it is very interesting how he used those real-life stories to make his points how information can be twisted into different meanings, or to one’s advantages. I like the way he used real stories to bring out is point, however, to me personally, somehow it I feel like kind of too long and needs to be more simpler to understand the points that he was getting at – maybe that’s just me! But at the end of the book, he made it easier by actually spell out the 10 rules, or rules of thumb to follow.

From this reading, I would like to remember the ‘ten statistical commandment’[1] that is written at the end of his book. I paraphrased them for myself so I could remembered. Following are the commandments: (1.) validate the information and not let your feelings influence you, (2.) look at all the angles available, (3.) look at the information given and make sure it is fully understood, (4.) look at other available sources to compare and contrast, (5.) make sure we know where it comes from and if the whole picture is there, (6.) And if the full picture is not there, would it look different if we get the whole picture? (7.) Ask critical questions about how the information came about from the data and be aware that without essential openness these information is unreliable, (8.) should be fully aware of the ultimate source of information, (9.) fully investigate beautiful data, and finally (10.) be open minded. As I read this book and the summary of it, which is in the last chapter, it sounds so synonymous with critical thinking. And off course that is what this course is about, ‘Critical Thinking.’

Boogaard (2024), “critical thinking is the ability to evaluate facts and information, remain objective, and make a sound decision about how to move forward…it seems simple in theory but is much tougher in practice.”[2] Because of this, practice is essential for one to perfect the process of ‘critical thinking,’ and in this case, the ‘ten statistical commandment’ is critical thinking with regards to numbers or data. As Harford came to closing his book, he shared the ‘Golden Rule,” which is – “BE CURIOS.”[3] My takeaway from this book is to critically understand and not to be misled by the world or numbers and date, one must apply the ‘Golden Rule,’ which is ‘BE CURIOUS!’

Curiosity might have killed the cat; however, in the world of data and numbers, curiosity might just save one in a leadership role.

[1] Harford, Tom. How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers. Great Britain: The Bridge Street Press, 2020.

[2] Boogaard, Kat. https://www.atlassian.com (accessed February 9, 2024).

[3] Ibid (pg. 281-282)

About the Author

Noel Liemam

12 responses to “Did curiosity really kill the cat?”

  1. Daren Jaime says:

    Hi Noel. I, too, found Harford’s 10 statistical commandments as edifying. It should be assumed that with so many educated and scholarly people involved in statistics and analytics, critical thinking is at the forefront. However, as we have learned, many have used their thinking toward dishonesty, bias, and subjectivity. As you look at the ten statistical commandments I wonder which one resonates with you most?

    • Noel Liemam says:

      Hi, Jaime, this concept is fairly new to me. It is something that I just learn. However, to answer your question, I would say #1. Since my NPO is about Micronesians living in the U.S., I need to ignore the fact that I am one of them, and I needed to validate all information lathered, not to be influence by my feelings. Thanks, Jaime, for bringing that to my attention.

  2. mm Russell Chun says:

    HI Noel,

    I hope you and yours are well. Being Curious! I guess that describes our cohorts. We are curious AND we want to somehow impact a cascade of change (a book by Sartell).

    I am inundated with statistics for my immigration NPO and your thoughts help me put things into perspective.

    Shalom my brother.

    • Noel Liemam says:

      Hi, Mr. Chun, thank you for your comments. I would like to check out that book by Sartell if you can help me with the title. And yes, I am grateful that I will be learning from you guys a lot, especially that you are ahead of us on this journey. Thanks again, Mr. Chun!

  3. Graham English says:

    Hi Noel, thanks for your post. It’s evident from our reading that a researcher’s and leader’s “secret weapon” is curiosity. Yet, I think often find myself “judging” something rather than remaining in a mindset of curiosity. What I mean is, I often think I know the answer to a problem, rather than asking the right questions.
    What do you do to stay in a mindset of curiosity?

  4. mm Jennifer Eckert says:

    Hi Noel, thanks for your post. You mention in a quote that critical thinking is (in part) the ability to evaluate facts and remain objective. How do you discern which facts to evaluate so that you can be objective?

    My question stems from a perspective that sometimes the data collection process is biased. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Noel Liemam says:

      Hi, Jennifer, thank you for your discussion. To discern which to remain objective is not easy. One of the writers that I quoted continued by saying that the following are important: (a.) to remain open-minded…(b.) ask questions and dig deep, and (c.) always check your biases and perceptions in order to remain objective (Boogaard 2024). I believe ‘critical thinking’ is best illustrated by the ‘ten statistical commandment.’ Thank you!

  5. Akwése Nkemontoh says:

    Noel, I agree that critical thinking is at the core of this, yet as you said, it’s easier said than done.

    How are you challenging yourself to go beyond what you see and read when applying these rules in your current ministry context and/or in how you think about your NPO and research?

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